2007 Festival

2007 Poster2007 Poster

AVENUE MONTAIGNE 
Fauteuils d'orchestre

directed by Danielle Thompson
cast Cecile De France, Valerie Lemercier, Albert Dupontel, Laura Morante, Claude Brasseur, Sydney Pollock
France | 2006 | 106 min.

NO! And again NO! This is not Amelie Part Deux. An intimate, touching portrait of Parisian artists as they frequent a café – with Jessica as their waitress. Very good acting performances along with director Thompson’s solid storytelling. At times too precious, but countered with the occasional small bite.

Belle Toujours 
directed by Manoel de Oliveira 
cast Michel Piccoli, Bulle Ogier, Richardo Trepa, Leonor Baldaque 
Portugal/France | 2006 | 68 min.

Welcome to the first stop on the Senior Citizen Directors' Express! Do check out the Chabrol and Marker stops later. De Oliveira at age 97 directs with both a mastery and an ease in his homage to Luis Buñuel. A tale of revenge and sadism enacted 38 years after the fact - hence the relationsip between Henri and Severine. Piccoli and Ogier, two of the more important actors in World Cinema, are spot on. (Do check some of Ogier's daring improvisations and versatility in 1970s films before heaping too much praise on the Binoches and Tatous of today.)

THE BRIDESMAID
La demoiselle d'honneur
directed by Claude Chabrol
cast Benoît Magimel, Laura Smet, Aurore Clement, Bernard Le Coq, Thomas Chabrol, Isolde Barth
France/Germany/Italy | 2004 | 111 min.

Even odds: 10 years from now the Festival will be showing a new Chabrol flick? Hard-working male meets his sister’s bridesmaid – male and bridesmaid fall in love – bridesmaid has troubles, disturbing illnesses – one or both players must be killed-off – we the audience are moved to the edges of our seats or couches and may doze-off. STOP! Haven’t we seen this too many times – too many predictable, pedestrian times? NO! Chabrol has fashioned a genuine twistedness – and twists – and bite – to make this familiar tale into a provocative, weird artwork. This may be Chabrol’s best film in the past 15 years.

 

THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT
Chats perchés
directed by Chris Marker
France | 2004 | 58 min.
CHRIS MARKER’S BESTIARY
directed by Chris Marker
France | 1988 | 17 min.

Chris Marker is one of World Cinema’s important directors. Though rarely available on DVD, even La jetée and Sans soleil are the staples of good video stores. This will be the first Marker in the ten years of the Festival. With voiceover, Marker’s “cine-essay” adroitly blends history, culture, and politics. Indeed, this work has a play with Garrel’s Les amants réguliers. A wandering yet coherent piece of political art.

 

Comme t'y es belle!
directed by Lisa Azuelos
cast Michele Laroque, Aure Atika, Valerie Benguigui, Geraldine Nakache
UK/Luxembourg/ France/Belgium | 2006 | 85 min.

This comedy, set in Paris, is the story of four friends who meet regularly for frank discussions about men, marriage, and children. Call it a Sephardic Sex in the City. Although each woman hails from a traditional North African Jewish home, they are all worldly, attractive, and struggling to balance their needs, careers, families, and love lives. (Makor/Steinhardt Center)

THE COURT
Bamako
directed by Abderrahme Sissako
cast Aissa Maiga, Maimouna Helene Diarra, Balla Habib Dembele, Djeneba Kone, Danny Glover, Zeka Laplaine
France/Mali | 2006 | 115 min.

Sissako’s meditative and rigorous Waiting for Happinessentranced Festival audiences several years back. With Bamako the director takes a somewhat more frontal approach as the narrative becomes mock trials of the IMF, World Bank, and other international financial institutions. An ensemble cast carries on these politically charged hearings calling to mind the village discussions in Sembene’s Moolade.

DRY SEASON
Daratt
directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
cast Ali Barkai, Khayar Oumar Defallah, Youssouf Djaoro
Chad | 2006 | 95 min.

In 2006, the Chad government granted amnesty to all war criminals. Sixteen-year-old Atim then begins a quest for the man who killed his father. Nassara, the former war criminal, has settled down with a wife and a small bakery. Atim is hired as an apprentice baker. And thus the narrative moves to areas rarely captured in films exploring the relationship between murderer and avenger.

 

Entre ses mains
directed
 by Anne Fontaine
cast Benoît Poelvoorde, Isabel Carre, Jonathan Zaccai, Valerie Donzelli
France/Belgium | 2005 | 90 min.

Fontaine continues building narratives around somewhat strange relationships (How I Killed My Father, Nathalie, Dry Cleaning) and here a veterinarian, played by Poelvoorde ofMan Bites Dog fame, and a young female insurance agent take center stage – sort of – as a scalpel-wielding serial killer hops and slices about town. Based upon the Dominique Barbéris novel Les Kangourous, Entre ses mainsbegs comparison with Jane Campion’s underseen and underrated In the Cut. Fontaine creates a solid story with an edginess just beneath the surface and some secrets behind the flatness of the motion picture screen.

 

EXTERMINATING ANGELS
Les anges exterminateurs
directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau
cast Frédéric van den Driessche, Maroussia Dubreuil, Lise Bellynck, Marie Allan
France | 2006 | 100 min.

Secret Choices, Brisseau’s last film, pleasurably polarized Festival audiences; there are hopes that this repeats with his newest film. There have been some quarters who have dismissed Brisseau’s work as exploitative. It seems that Brisseau’s work has light pinches and strong punches of melancholy which curiously prevent out-and-out exploitation. Strong sexual content.

 

L’iceberg
directed by Dominque Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
cast Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Philippe Martz
France | 2005 | 84 min.

Fiona is “happy” leading a suburban life. Fiona is accidentally locked in a huge freezer to emerge half-dead with her family not even noticing her absence or apparent near-death condition. Time for a change? Fiona develops an obsession for everything cold (well, everything save for her family) – snow, polar bears, icebergs – and thus Fiona begins her titanic quest for an iceberg. The directors strike a balance between the humorous and sad in what could be this year’s When the Sea Rises. The directors make at least one risky move by telling this tale with very little spoken word.”

MAGIC LANTERN CINEMA PRESENTS: Paysages lointains, paysages proches

This program of recent experimental shorts brings together seven remarkable films that share a concern with travel and states of passage. Xavier Lukomski's hypnotic Un pont sur le Drina brings together considerations of landscape and historical trauma, while Frederic Moffet's multiple award-winning Jean Genet in Chicago examines the 1968 National Democratic Convention from the point of view of the famed French writer. Hand-processed films by Rose Lowder, Patrick Bokanowski, and Louise Bourque, as well as travel films by Vincent Grenier and Yann Beauvais round out the evening.

Le petit lieutenant
directed by Xavier Beauvois
cast Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Chappey, Jacques Perrin
France | 2005 | 110 min.

Director Beauvois shows a filmic command that is on one level a solid, brooding French film noir while on another level the noir genre is used to explore loss and the seemingly perpetual gnawing memory of the dead. It seems that loss impacts and informs the lives of all the main characters. Beauvois’ choice is to keep the narrative low-key. Do not expect a loud, bullet-filled, blood spattered conclusion. Expect to be engaged in a high sense.

Rechercher Victor Pellerin
directed by Sophie Deraspe
Canada | 2006 | 102 min.

Artist Victor Pellerin, a star of the 90s art scene, burns a fortune of paintings and vanishes from Montreal. Director Deraspe reviews and uncovers scads of information by tracking down the numerous individuals in Pellerin’s life. “Art is a lie” is the film’s tagline.

REGULAR LOVERS
Les amants réguliers
directed by Philippe Garrel
cast Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hisme, Julien Lucas, Eric Rulliat
France | 2005 | 178 min.

Garrel’s autobiographical, loose narrative on the lives, loves, riots of students in 1968 Paris. Shot in glorious black and white (one of many ways in which Garrel counters Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. But how different areThe Dreamers and Regular Lovers? A number of Garrel’s aesthetic choices work. The near three hour length is appropriate for playing out the time and space among the players. Here 1968 is not continuous student protests. Also, a spare musical track works.”

Le voyage en Arménie
directed by Robert Guédiguian
France | 2006 | 125 min.

Director Guediguian continues his quiet, perceptive exploration of people and place. Using the same actors from a number of his previous films, a quiet yet powerful narrative unfolds. While being a regular in festivals, director Guediguian deserves more exposure.